I stood in the small chapel, waiting for the first glimpse of my lifelong friend. We grew up together, sharing our deepest thoughts, hopes and dreams, from playground to prom. As our lives unfolded the time we were able to spend together was the typical tale of good intentions, hectic schedules and cancelled plans. We both married, had children, and moved on to the next chapter of our lives. Although our journey led us to opposite sides of the country our hearts were always joined as soul sisters. Two years ago, after a lengthy illness, her beloved husband passed. I remember the phone call and her voice as she whispered “I can’t imagine where I will go from here. In all the plans we made as children I never saw myself being here….in this moment…..” I didn’t have an answer for her. The words weren’t there. This was unfamiliar territory. The only thing I knew for certain was I would be there for her. Always.

And now, here we were. Me, waiting to see her again after a year apart. She, ready to embark on a new chapter in her life. In the conversations we’d shared over the last twelve months my heart would fill with joy as she began to use words like “living authentically” and “thrive.” At some point she nonchalantly added she’d met someone. I heard the shift in her voice. As if she was smiling when she said it, wanting to let me in on the secret, yet not make a big deal out of it. She’d made brave choices, grown and healed.

My wandering thoughts were brought back to the present as the music began. I turned to see her standing there, an ethereal goddess. Waiting, swaying, eyes shining. They were standing together at the back of the aisle, her daughters and his, surrounding my soul sister. Their noses crinkled as they erupted into giggles. One stepped forward. A flash of petal pink toenails. Tiny rosebuds on bare feet. Tiptoeing, skipping, then unabashedly, wholeheartedly dancing. They all followed suit. The piece of parchment paper I’d been handed when I arrived read “Run ahead where there are no paths. Shoes optional.” Yes, I thought. Run ahead where they are no paths, wear gossamer gowns in bare feet, live authentically, thrive, and dance. From playground to prom and beyond. Dance. Always, always, dance.

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